In early spring, the tints of budding vegetation shade into each other in an amazing way. This effect is strongest on a somewhat overcast or even misty day, when there are not strong sun and shade effects. (I started this painting last year, adding the last few hours' highlights in a cold January.)
I go past this view over Essex Estuary every day. It is curious how markedly the vegetation is cast into stripes. I suspect that part of it is that different plants and trees do best at different heights and distances from the salt water, but there is more than that going on, I think.
The strongly striped pattern creates a challenge in composition, if we really want to see the bands as part of one thing. The detail we would see in person or in a photograph isn't feasible in an artistic representation, so one has to look for different tools to make the stria interact.
A self-portrait was one of my first experiments in oils. While in many ways it is a good representation of me, I felt that it was time to try again. In this one, the paint was applied entirely with a palette knife. As the paint builds up in some areas, for instance around the eyes, the texture becomes three-dimensional – so that it is no longer possible to apply paint in a smooth layer. The surface becomes more textured, with the hues in small areas unintentionally taking on additive relationships, creating some interesting effects.
At the moment, at least, I feel that I have learned something in two years of painting. I wonder how I'll feel two years from now.
On a steamy late summer day, I happened across this man, clad in a fleece-lined jacket over two thick shirts, topped with a stocking cap. From a plastic bag of clothing and other paraphrenalia not shown in this picture, it was obvious that he was homeless. He had his jaw thrust forward, and his manner was marked by what I would later characterize as frustration.
It was not my intention at that moment to go looking for homeless people, but this finding struck me in a strong way. I have since become very interested in homeless persons – who, I find more and more, are persons of all kinds who have become homeless, for the short or long term. I expect to make an active project of this interest. You may expect to see more portraits here in the coming months.
I am struck with impressions of people engaged in the ordinary activities of daily life, here having lunch downtown with the trains going by.
The road to Crane Beach & Reservation, a local cultural icon, is a familiar sight to most people from Ipswich and surrounding areas. The tide is high in this view, and the weather very windy. At low tide, the water would be little more of a presence than a few streams here and there, flowing through the reeds and grass.
I realized much after the fact (looking at Google images, of all things) that the palette is unintentionally quite like that of an abstract composition I had done a year before, which, curiously, was deliberately taken from a seascape of John Singer Sargent. If this particular correspondence was accidental, it does indeed reflect my hope and belief that abstract and representational art are not very far apart.
I took over my mother's oil painting set when her mind lost its ability to work with it. I wanted it to be not just a piece of memorabilia, but a living, active tool set. It was obvious to me what the first new painting should be: a picture of her. I had virtually no experience in working with oils, but I did have a lot of determination.
This was not a happy time for us. My mother was suffering from a lingering spell of the flu and was generally miserable. Like a very young child, she was unable to identify the flu as an external event. It was just a presence that colored everything.
There were other things going on that she was not aware of, but I was. My younger brother, Peter, had just died unexpectedly. Her dementia was progressing at a very rapid pace, though that in itself gave her no pain and she had no idea that anything was different from normal.
These tides are reflected in the painting.